Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Free Range Kids

So Cousin just told me about this Website and book (I am 42nd on the list at the library to borrow it at this time).

This is what Lenore Skenazy writes about her burgeoning movement: Do you ever...let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk to school? Make dinner? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free-Range Kid! Free-Rangers believe in helmets, car seats, seat belts — safety! We just do NOT believe that every time school age kids go outside, they need a security detail. Share your stories, tell your tips and maybe I'll use them in a new book. Here's to common sense parenting in uncommonly overprotective times!

I've been thinking about this sort of thing a lot lately. Big is getting more and more independent and craves time outside, independent time, and exploring. When the sun is up he wants out.

He's little -- even according to Skenazy -- but I can see him already pushing his own envelope. He wants permission to ride his bike around the block by himself. He wants to be free to explore not only our yard, but the neighbors' yards too. When we bike together, he wants to go many blocks away, and I can see him struggling trying to remember directions, a little map of the neighborhood being constructed in his head.

This is new territory for us. Remember this?

Ten, to this day, has not pushed that envelope. She is happy to be indoors, hesitant to be independent, and with nearly zero practical sense.

In one direction, we live about three blocks (one long and two short) to a little local grocery store, a little hardware store and a great coffee shop.

She has no idea how to get there.

And you can imagine that we've been there a few times.

She has no idea how to get to her school.

It is nine blocks away and there is nearly a straight shot.

When Cousin and I were little (less than nine) we had the run of the neighborhood and I don't remember boundaries and I want that for my kids. I worry for Ten and her lack of practicality. And I wonder how far we'll let Big go. I'm tempted to let him go around the block. If it weren't for the cars in the alley, I'd already do it. We're learning about how drivers don't look for bikers generally, let alone bikers that are one foot off the ground.

I'm sure he'll push her too and they'll become independent. . . together.


Mwa said...

I know what you mean. I drop my 5yr old at the end of a (traffic-free) alley some days and he walks himself the 100 metres to school. And he goes to the newsagents by himself (no streets to cross). I want him to be independent, but it's scary. My 2yr old ran out between two parked cars today because she thought it would be funny. It's too much of a balancing act sometimes.

Jenn said...

I don't let Carl walk to school by himself either... and it is just 1/2 block. I think about this stuff alot. On Easter over at my parents' house we wandered down the next block's alley where there's a private tennis court hidden in the woods. My parents used to let us wander there alone for hours. What gives? Are there too many wierdos out there? Or are we overcautious?